A TAXI driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger has claimed the woman consented to sexual activity – but he lied to police about nothing happening as he feared his wife would find out.
Ioan Sofronici told jurors at Portsmouth Crown Court the alleged victim left his taxi on ‘good terms’ in the early hours in Hayling Island last year.
The 26-year-old, of Bramble Road, Southsea, said they had agreed to meet up the next day as they did not have sex in the taxi because they had no protection.
Giving evidence on the second day of his trial, Sofronici said the passenger had been ‘flirtatious’, that they kissed and there was sexual activity after arriving in Hayling Island, and that he asked her to perform a sex act on him when he drove a short way away from the house.
But he said she declined and then he drove her back.
He said he was arrested later in the day following the alleged assault in spring last year.
He said: ‘They (police) said it’s about sexual assault and then I made a connection because of what happened that night.
‘I was panicking, I know, because my wife was there.’
He added: ‘When they interviewed me I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I was in shock, panicking, thinking about my marriage.’
Sofronici said: ‘I was lying about it because I was so scared that my wife could find out.
‘I just wanted the nightmare to end, but I know my mistake was I didn’t tell the truth to the police the first time.’
In his interview, which was read out in court, he told police nothing happened and that he had dropped off the woman.
Christopher Wing, prosecuting, asked Sofronici to account for why the woman made a call to 999 and Andi Cars, where he worked, when she was distressed.
Sofronici said: ‘I didn’t cause her that distress.’
Sofronici told jurors he allowed her to pay him twice for the taxi.
Earlier, during cross-examination of the woman, barrister Flavia Kenyon, for Sofronici, said: ‘I’m afraid you have very much exaggerated and lied.
‘Everything that happened in that taxi between you and Mr Sofronici happened with consent.’
The alleged victim denied this.
Jurors heard Sofronici has no previous convictions.
He denies one charge of sexual assault.